Ronald Flagg, vice president and general counsel of the Legal Services Corp., is the newest member of the District of Columbia commission that vets lawyers applying to become judges on the city’s local courts.
Flagg replaces Karl Racine, a Venable partner who finished his six-year term on the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission on Jan. 1.
The seven-person commission includes members appointed by the mayor, D.C. Council, D.C. Bar, White House and chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Flagg was appointed to one of two seats filled by the D.C. Bar.
"The commission performs a critical function for the District in helping to ensure that our local judiciary is as strong as it can possibly be," Flagg said. "I'm honored and excited to join in that effort."
Before joining the Legal Services Corp., Flagg spent more three decades at Sidley Austin. He served as D.C. Bar president from 2010 to 2011.
The commission evaluates lawyers applying for judgeships in the D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals. The group recommends three applicants per judicial vacancy to the White House. The president selects a nominee to go before the U.S. Senate for confirmation proceedings.
D.C. Bar officials appointed Racine to the commission in 2008. He brought experience about the nominations process, having served as an associate counsel in the Clinton White House.
Over the past six years, Racine said the nomination commission strove to become more transparent and expand its outreach under the leadership of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, the commission's chair.
Racine said the commission also focused on diversifying the lawyers it recommended to the White House—taking into account professional background, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other areas.
"We very much urge any interested candidates to not self-select out, but to reach out proactively to other judges on the court, to even the commission and attend those commission outreach sessions," he said.
During Racine's time on the commission, the White House nominated more than 20 lawyers to become judges in the D.C. courts. Twenty were confirmed between 2008 and the end of 2013. Racine declined to discuss individual judges, but he said he was pleased with the quality of judges who ended up on the bench.
"There's something about 15-year tenure that allows judges to develop a sense of independence that may develop in a way that perhaps was a surprise to the commission," he said. "Nonetheless, we certainly respect the independence of the judges and overwhelmingly we've been excited and very proud of the judges who we put forward."